Long Ashton is a village in North Somerset, a few miles south-west of the city of Bristol. The village is built on the south facing slopes of a valley running from east to west, and on the old road from Bristol to Weston-super-Mare. The parish of the same name comprises the village plus the ancient parish of Bedminster (now part of Bristol), Dundry, Barrow Gurney, Flax Bourton, Wraxall and Abbots Leigh.
Prehistoric and Roman artefacts have been found in the area, but the village originated in Saxon times. The Domesday Book records it as Estune (the place by the Ash tree) and, afterwards, it was granted to Bishop Geoffrey of Constances. The origin of the "Long" prefix is unknown, and it was normally just called Ashton up to the mid 19th century.
The manor house dates to 1265 and, in the late 15th century shares in the estate were purchased by Richard Amerike (one of the possible sources of the name America). Previously the manor had passed through the hands of the Lyons, Choke and finally Smyth families. By 1603 the Smyths had become the principal landowners in the parish and were lords of Long Ashton for four centuries—the estate finally being sold in 1946.
The parish church of All Saints dates from about 1380, and the arms of its founder (Thomas de Lyons) are on the outside of the tower. The interior has some fine tombs, and some relatives of the poet Robert Southey are buried in the churchyard.
Since the earliest recorded times, agriculture has been the major occupation of the parish, and there are still several working farms, some just outside the village. The Ashton Court estate provided occupations such as gamekeepers and foresters, and there have been several mills in the parish including a snuff-mill in the 19th century.
Stone has been quarried for lime burning, as well as for building and road making. There was an iron foundry in the 19th century and coal mines - the Bedminster-Ashton coalfield finally closed in 1924.
The Angel Inn, near the church, is the oldest pub in the village, dating from 1495 and originally being a church-house. There are several other historic pubs in the area, very popular with visitors from Bristol—a horse-drawn bus ran from Redcliffe Street, Bristol to the Bird-in-Hand several times a week in the late 19th century.
the National Fruit and Cider Institute opened at Fenswood on the edge of the village in 1903. It became the Agricultural and Horticultural Research Station in 1912, and was known as Long Ashton Research Station until it was closed in 2003. During the Second World War it developed rose hip syrup and Ribena.
A Parochial School opened in 1818 and moved several times - the current Primary School opened in 1967. There have been other schools in the village, including boarding schools for "Young Gentlemen".
Leigh Woods has been built on since 1865 and the land south of Nightingale Valley was fully developed by 1909—the rest has been preserved by gifts of land by the Wills family, and is now owned by the National Trust.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge was opened in 1864 and provided an alternative route to Bristol; in 1906 a swing bridge was opened to give access to Hotwells. Traffic continued to grow throughout the 20th century and a bypass was opened in 1968.
- Brit-info page on the village (http://www.britinfo.net/index_Long_Ashton.htm)
- Long Ashton Village Website (http://www.longashton.org.uk/)
- UKVillages page on Long Ashton (http://www.ukvillages.co.uk/ukvillages.nsf/villages/England/Long+Ashton-Bristol+City)